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    THE MISANTHROPE Essay Summary

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    A monologue from the play by Moliere

    NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Moliere, Vol. II. Ed. Charles Heron Wall. London: George Bell & Sons, 1898.

    ALCESTE: No, you labour in vain, and in vain try to argue. Nothing can now deter me from my project; too much perversity reigns in our age, and I am resolved to avoid in future all intercourse with men. What! everyone sees that honour, probity, decency, and the laws are all against my adversary, men publish the justice of my cause, and my mind trusts to the certainty of my right! Yet in the end I am defeated! I have justice on my side, and I lose my cause! A miserable scoundrel, whose shameful history everyone knows, comes off triumphantly, thanks to the blackest falsehood! All good faith yields to his perfidy! He cuts my throat and proves that he is right. The weight of his mean, hypocritical grimace is thrown into the balance, and justice kicks the beam. He gets a decree of court to crown his infamy; and not satisfied with the injury done to me, as there circulates in the world an abominable book, the mere reading of which would be blamable, and which deserves the strictest suppression, the paltry scoundrel has the impudence to proclaim me the author! Upon which Oronte is seen to mutter, and basely endeavours to support the calumny! Oronte, who is said at Court to be an honourable man, and to whom I have done no other wrong than to have told him the honest truth. Oronte, who comes to me in spite of myself, eagerly to ask my opinion on verses of his making; and because I speak to him frankly, and betray neither him nor the truth, he helps to crush me with an imaginary crime! He becomes my greatest enemy, and will never forgive me, because, forsooth! I could not find his sonnet good. ‘Sdeath! and men are made thus! It is to such actions that glory leads them! This is the good faith, virtuous zeal, justice, and honour we find among them! No, it is too much to endure all the sorrows their malice can devise against us; I will escape out of this wood, out of this cut-throat place; and since men behave like wolves to each other, the traitors shall never have me among them so long as I am alive.

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